Florida Psychoanalytic Center

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Eric Mandelsohn, Ph.D. “How We Do This Work: The Analyst’s Holding Environment”

February 3, 2024 at 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Presentation Summary:

From Dr. Mendelsohn: This talk is a highly personal statement of what I need and draw upon in doing this work, and a summary of perspectives that have taken shape over nearly 50 years in the field. It is also a kind of letter, a conversation opener with you in which I convey ideas that, despite their grounding in my history and personality, hopefully have utility and evocative reach for this community of colleagues.


These ideas emerged more specifically from a discussion paper I wrote nearly 10 years ago at a psychoanalytic conference. At that conference therapists shared experiences of working while undergoing personal hardships and spoke of how their life circumstances and the complexities of their personal psychologies influence how they work. I argued that, over the course of our professional lives, we undergo losses, adversity and a wide range of preoccupations. Further, our personal analyses notwithstanding, we remain complicated people. Given all that, it might seem to be a minor miracle that we can do good work. Yet, I maintained that, much of the time, we do. This talk will elaborate on this state of affairs. I will consider what we need to support and sustain us as working therapists. I will talk about the traditions we identify with, the kinds of relationships we form with our patients, and our internalizations of our relationships with our analysts, supervisors, teachers, mentors, colleagues, and those whose work we study, and delineate how these elements constitute the holding environment we draw upon in doing good work. My hope is that the atmosphere we create will encourage lively participation.

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the ways in which our “therapist selves” may differ from the selves we become in other relational contexts.
  2. Identify working conditions and relational traditions that constitute their holding environment.
  3. Delineate ways in which our patients participate with us in constructing such holding environments.


Dr. Mendelsohn is Faculty and Supervisor at the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy; the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, Training Institute and National Training Program, and the Postgraduate Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Adelphi University. He has taught at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute; the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Washington, D.C.; and the Kansas City Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, where he served as Co-Director. Dr. Mendelsohn’s practice includes individual psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, psychotherapy with couples, and individual supervision and consultation.  He also leads reading and supervision/consultation groups. His papers and book chapters take up the patient-therapist relationship and the subjective experience of the therapist.


Registration Type

About Scientific Meetings

Program Committee Chair: Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D.

Scientific Meetings are large public events where renowned analysts from around the country are invited to present papers and clinical material. In addition to the formal presentation, attendees have an opportunity to engage in questions, comments, and discussion with the speaker.

Scientific meetings are held three to five times per year on Saturdays from 9.00am to 12.00pm. Meetings will be held in person at Florida Psychoanalytic Center in Coral Gables, with light breakfast served, as well as streamed over Zoom.

Scientific Meetings are open to anyone who has an interest in psychoanalysis. CME’s and CEUs are offered.

Event Details

February 3, 2024
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
50 Alhambra Plaza
Coral Gables, 33134
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(305) 441-1234